I was home on leave for 2 weeks and then traveled to Riviera Maya near Cancun, Mexico last week to film some more Police Dynamics training videos. So now you know why I haven’t posted any new police or leadership training videos for the last few weeks. Here is the first one from Cancun on Discernment.

The character quality of discernment is defined by the Character Training Institute as:

Understanding the deeper reasons why things happen

It’s like wearing a SCUBA diving mask so you can see below the surface more clearly. This is an essential quality for a leader, a supervisor, an investigator, a patrol officer, or even a parent to possess.

So much of what we do in the leadership and law enforcement arenas deals with behavior. But the principles of Police Dynamics go below the surface and look at the character that motivates the behavior. By exercising discernment, you can begin to deal with the real problems as opposed to only treating the symptoms.

It’s actually the fundamental difference between character and ethics. We often use those terms interchangeably, but ethics deals primarily with behavior. We have ethical rules of conduct: do this but don’t do that. It’s all behavior based. While the principles of character look into the heart of the individual because it’s their character that most often motivates their behavior, particularly when they are under stress.

That’s why an effective leader or law enforcement officer must put on his or her “Discernment Mask” so they can see below the surface. For an investigator, this is how they catch criminals. For a patrol officer, discernment can be more valuable than a ballistic vest in ensuring their safety on the streets.

This ties right in to our teaching about Super Vision in the Dynamic of SuperVision. An effective supervisor has to put on their “SuperVision Goggles” which is really all about discernment.

In future episodes of Police Dynamics training, I will take you deeper into an understanding of these principles of leadership and effective policing. Next week we will start a series on the Dynamic of Discretion, one of the advanced principles from Series 2 of the Police Dynamics program. So stay tuned and bring your SCUBA gear because we’re going deep…!

Sheriff Ray

About the Author

15 Responses to Discernment in Cancun

  1. David Ivey says:

    Leadership is so essential in life for all of us. You have shown that it can be taught even though we are not natural leaders. It takes desire and commitment and some GUTS.
    Thanks for all that you do.

    • Sheriff Ray says:


      I was once asked by a reporter what it was that attracted me to other people. I instantly said “Passion!” Passion and enthusiasm are key leadership qualities because they inspire others to follow. Passion coupled with moral courage (the GUTS you mentioned) is a powerful leadership combination. Thanks for posting…

      Sheriff Ray

  2. I viewed your video, Discernment in Cancun, and found it an absolute gem of a subject matter for law enforcement types. I believe this is the first time that I have seen this particular subject presented not only as an essential tool, but one that could save your life. I applaud your message and video.

    Joel G. Henderson

    • Sheriff Ray says:

      Thanks, Joel. Discernment is just another way of saying “street savvy” – something that has saved more officers’ lives than a ballistic vest…

      Sheriff Ray

  3. Alex Cruz says:

    That was an outstanding message. I felt like I was at my Baptist Christian Church for service. It was clear, concise and pointed. You’re a motivational speaker and speaking from experience. Great job. look forward to your next message.

    Alex Cruz

    • Sheriff Ray says:

      Thanks, Alex. I really appreciate the positive feedback. This was not one of my best works due to the camera I was working with and the shooting environment. Would you mind if I posted your comments on the website? I would like to share them with other viewers if that’s OK…

      Sheriff Ray

      • Alex Cruz says:

        Absolutely. And don’t underestimate yourself. I wasn’t looking at the surroundings or the camera angles, I was paying attention to the message which you most excellently put forth. You are motivational and use props with a purpose. I look forward to your next course.

        I have Leukemia and am surviving because I stay positive and surround myself with positive people. You know from experience that this is very difficult in law enforcement. So your message was quite refreshing.

        I was a Field Training Officer for about 8 years. I would get a lot of the trainees that weren’t making it. I found that they weren’t learning because of the instructor not being flexible in their teaching styles. It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.

        Keep up the fantastic work and please let me know if there is anything I can ever do to help out.

        Alex Cruz

  4. Nate Derby says:

    Ray- Another great video from your website. Keep it up.
    Nate Derby

  5. Tony Normore says:

    Hello Ray

    I’m impressed by the very important work that you do. I’ll take some time and peruse the link you provided below. I’ll add a comment or two too if you wish. I like how you end your message with “Keep up the good character”. It’s a much needed slogan we want to see put directly into practice. Many thanks.


    • Sheriff Ray says:


      I am SO glad that you found the information to be helpful and encouraging.

      In regards to the “keep up the good character” response, we started using that at the Sheriff’s Office because we found ourselves saying “good job” and “keep up the good work” all the time. If you think about it, those are ways to praise achievement instead of the character that produced it. I have posted some training videos that speak to this issue. When we praise achievement over character (which is what we are programmed to do), we can actually encourage bad character. Instead, I encourage folks to always tie at least one character quality into the recognition, something I call making the Character Connection. That way we encourage and promote good character, which in the long run will always result in higher achievement…

      Check out these videos for more on this topic:
      The Character Maxim
      Making the Character Connection
      Pitching Character
      The Rookie’s Pursuit

      Thanks for expressing your gratefulness for the videos and keep up the good character!

      Sheriff Ray Nash

      • Tony Normore says:


        I read the submissions about “The Benefits of Good Character”, “49 Character Qualities”, “10 Virtues of a Law Officer”, and watched the “Police Dynamics Intro Video”. My immediate reaction is one of complete support. I’m thoroughly drawn to the pyramid type conceptual framework of “competence and Character” where these two virtues serve as the pillar of the other virtues (i.e., integrity, trust, etc).

        I hope it’s ok for me to use this approach/model for my graduate level course on “Ethics and Educational Leadership”. I’m impressed and most grateful that we have this source (yours) to help in our own leadership development, preparation and training.

        THANK YOU!….and keeping in line with the fantastic adage – “Keep up the good character”.


        Anthony H. Normore, Ph. D
        Professor and Chair, Department of Educational Leadership,
        Graduate School of Education, California Lutheran University #4100
        60 W. Olsen Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360

        • Sheriff Ray says:


          As my chaplain used to say, “If it fits your barrel, fire it…!” Feel free to use anything on the site. Attribution is always appreciated…

          Sheriff Ray Nash

  6. Dave Hodges says:

    Thanks for posting this, I sometimes have to present to groups of Leaders on How to build in, or maintain, Morale or motivation. Especially in times of austerity and cuts in public sector spending, this has given me some ‘Get up.. and go’.

    Dave Hodges

  7. Sheriff Ray says:

    Glad everyone liked the video so much. Dr. Kimberly Alyn is an awesome motivational speaker. I’m getting more comments on this post than anything else on the site…!

    There are lots more training videos in the works, plus over 100 leadership, law enforcement, and character-based videos already live on this site…

    Sheriff Ray Nash

  8. […] the Five Types of Offenders to make a determination as to their level of character. Having the discernment to see below the surface of behavior into the heart of their character is essential to applying the […]

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Sheriff Ray Nash

Sheriff Ray Nash

What Law Enforcement and Community Leaders Are Saying About Police Dynamics

“A few years ago, we brought the Police Dynamics program to the Cincinnati Police Division and were most impressed with the quality of the training and richness of the program.”
Mike Daly
Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky

"I have attended training conducted by the Police Dynamics Institute in the past and know Ray Nash both personally and professionally. They have my whole-hearted endorsement…"
Sheriff Larry Williams
Orangeburg, SC

"I cannot tell you how excited I am to see this website. I was introduced to your video on the Dynamics of Authority through my father who is a police chaplain for the FBI and local law enforcement agencies here in Las Cruces. I have taught and applied the Dynamics model to my students when I was a teacher, and now to my department as a fire fighter."
Nathan Carr
Las Cruces Fire Dept.

“One of the greatest seminars I have ever attended in the 33 years I’ve been a Deputy.”
Walter Bolinger
Marion County Sheriff’s Office, IN

"I was so impressed by the (Police Dynamics) program that I purchased your video tape series. All Grand County Sheriff’s Employees subsequently viewed the tapes, and I have also mandated that all new Sheriff’s Employees watch it as well."
Glen Trainor
Grand County Sheriff’s Office

"It is with much enthusiasm that I encourage senior law enforcement executives to make attending the Police Dynamics seminar a key training priority for your agency."
DeWayne Beggs
Cleveland County, OK
former 2nd VP - National Sheriff's Association

"I am convinced of the benefits of the Police Dynamics program."
Jerry Martin
Delores County, CO
former Pres - County Sheriff's of Colorado

"Honestly, I’ve not been more impressed with a police training that I’ve attended in the last 20 years..."
Tom McClain
Chief of Police
Willard, MO

"I am a firm believer that Police Dynamics and Character First! equip the men and women that work for the Oklahoma Sheriff’s Office to do their job and do it better."
John Whetsel
Oklahoma County, OK

"If you believe that good character is an essential element in policing, you will want to send your key staff to Police Dynamics."
David Williams
Tarrant County, TX

"In the three years prior to our character initiative, we had 42 labor and employee grievances, and seven different lawsuits. In the three years since we put the character initiative in place, we have had two grievances and no lawsuits from employees. I think that, in and of itself, is significant."
Rodney Ray
City Manager
Owasso, OK

"This course was one of the best training sessions that I’ve been through. This concept will benefit me and the staff in my division."
Police Dynamics participant

[We have] more awareness of the preventative benefits of a character initiative as opposed to the typical reactive approach to situations. There is a sense of excitement by organization leaders as they begin to see a change in their culture. Bob Powell
Character Council
Fort Collins, CO

"[The Police Dynamics training] brings us closer together, more like a family … it reminds us of why we’re out there and what it’s about.”
Captain John Decker
Dorchester County Sheriff's Office, SC

"This class gave me the vocabulary that I have been looking for to praise and motivate my employees."
Police Dynamics participant

"We’ve built a much better relationship with each other. We’ve seen a decrease in complaints. We’ve become a family instead of a place to work."
Sheriff Howie Godwin
Highlands County, FL

“This shows us a new approach to recognize employees’ character traits - and to acknowledge them for those good traits versus, 'You did an excellent job…' It’s some fresh ideas in an area that we probably all need to change."
Major P.D. Taylor
Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office

"The Police Dynamics training that Ray Nash brought teaches the things that are at the core of being a good police officer – being trustworthy, being of good character…"
Sgt. Julie Shearer
Cincinnati Police Div.

“In the Police Dynamics training seminar, the officers are able to set a standard in their own lives of the kind of character they want to see in their community."
Chaplain Carl Nelson
Colorado Springs Police Department

"Character is the solution to the real problem in our community of crime. Character supplies the answer."
Hon. F.A. Schad
Former Judge
Burleson, TX

“I want you to know that my international and national career was very much influenced by your lessons and knowing you was of paramount importance for my job and career. Many Romanian police officers are grateful to you and to Character training."
Teofil Parasca
Assistant Superintendent
Arad County Police

"I would like to work more toward management by principles instead of rules – with an emphasis on character and guiding principles."
Chief Lynn Williams
Chickasha, OK

“We need to return to our basic character traits that made this country great. Ray Nash has the program to do it."
Police Dynamics participant

"This shows us a new approach to recognize those employees’ character traits and to recognize and acknowledge them for those good traits versus, “You did an excellent job…” It’s some fresh ideas in an area that we probably all need to change."
Major P.D. Taylor
Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office

"In the three years prior to our character initiative, we had 42 labor and employee grievances, and seven different lawsuits. In the three years since we put the character initiative in place, we have had two grievances and no lawsuits from employees. I think that, in and of itself, is significant."
Rodney Ray
City Manager
Owasso, OK

"Absolutely fantastic! It reminded me of why I wanted to be a peace officer."
Police Dynamics participant

"the finest value-added training anywhere."
Sheriff David Williams
Tarrant County, TX

"We continue to benefit from your teaching and hire with a strong emphasis on character."
Chief Tom McClain
Willard, MO

"Once again, I feel absolutely indebted to you for the program you have developed and your desire to change the world through the building of better law enforcement officers."
Glen P. Trainor
Grand County, CO

"Sheriff Ray Nash is an internationally recognized speaker that you and your staff will learn powerful principles from, while enjoying the lesson."
DeWayne Beggs
Cleveland County, OK

"Very comprehensive, a great resource manual for the future. The seminar was dynamic in every way. What a great resource for people throughout their day-to-day routines.”
Doug Carter
Indiana State Police